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Political Land Mines

While the money is sweet, all the visitors inadvertently are affecting the county’s traditions in a way that elected officials have avoided.

State law allows county councils to lift the sales restrictions, but such a vote puts politicians between religious and retail constituents.

Lexington County Council has never taken a vote on blue laws, said council’s most senior member, John Carrigg.

Last spring, the S.C. House bucked a tendency to be politically safe. It agreed to a bill that would have eliminated sales restrictions statewide.

Lexington’s delegation, except Pitts, voted against the House bill.

For his vote, Pitts said he was portrayed by critics as putting commerce over God, a politically risky position in a Bible Belt state. “It’s probably hurt (my re-election chances), to be honest with you.”

Gov. Mark Sanford vetoed the bill, and the House upheld his veto in June.

Eliminating sales restrictions without a vote by residents eats at critics like the Rev. Sloan.

“Not giving the people a vote in this is, in my mind, manipulative. It’s just a sad way of imposing their will.”

But, he added, “I just feel a little helpless.”


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